Wild fourth quarter sees Washington State edge Rutgers

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For a second season in a row, Washington State (1-1) and Rutgers (1-1) put together a wild and crazy fourth quarter in non-conference competition between the Big Ten and Pac-12. This year, the road team once again prevailed as Washington State wiggled its way out of New Jersey with a 37-34 victory.

Let’s just fast forward to the fourth quarter fireworks between Washington State and Rutgers, because it was pretty much a snooze fest before that. The two teams combined for 39 fourth-quarter points and 411 yards on scoring drives alone.

Rutgers struck first in the fourth quarter when Chris Laviano completed a pass to Matt Flanagan for a short touchdown pass to tie the game. The touchdown was the final play of a six-play, 68-yard drive by the Scarlet Knights. Washington State reclaimed the lead, 23-20, a couple of minutes later off the leg of kicker Erick Powell from 37 yards out. The lead was as short-lived as it could be, because Rutgers returner Janarion Grant returned the ensuing kickoff 100 yards for a 27-213 lead.

That put Washington State right back on the field with the offense, and the Cougars took advantage of having the Rutgers defense back on the field. Washington State capped an eight-play drive that spanned 82 yards with Luke Falk completing a touchdown pass to Gabe Marks for a 23-yard score. Following the Washington State score, it looked as though the Cougars defense would do its part to seal a victory. Rutgers fumbled away the football on its fourth play, but the Cougars turned the ball over on downs at the Rutgers 39-yard line. After the teams exchanged punts, Washington State was once again forced to punt the ball back to Rutgers. For the second time of the quarter, Rutgers special teams came through when Grant returned a Washington State punt 55 yards for a score. With 1:31 to play though, that was more than enough time for Mike Leach and his offense to get the last laugh. They had to earn it though.

Falk guided the Washington State offense on a 10-play, 90-yard drive in just under 80 seconds. It ended with Falk finding River Cracraft in the back of the end zone for the go-ahead and game-winning touchdown.

Falk ended the game with 47 completed passes (out of 66 attempts) for 478 yards and four touchdowns. Both Marks and Cracraft hit triple digits with 146 yards and 121 yards, respectively.

Washington State now has a chance to put together an early winning record with a home game against Wyoming next week. Rutgers will hit the road for the first time this season to open Big Ten play at Penn State. Rutgers lost a tight one against the Nittany Lions last season in New Jersey. Rutgers has not won at Penn State since 1988.

Suspended Michigan State staffer receives another contract extension

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Michigan State has added another one-month extension to the contract of suspended football staffer Curtis Blackwell as the school continues to investigate several sexual assaults involving the Spartans.

A schools spokesman confirmed the extension to the Detroit Free Press on Friday.

The move comes on the heels of a previous one-month contract extension for Blackwell that came at the end of March. His official title is that of the team’s director of college advancement and performance and he was hired by head coach Mark Dantonio back in 2013 after running a number of major recruiting camps in the region.

Blackwell was originally suspended back in February as the school and police began multiple investigations related to sexual assaults. According to reports, one Michigan State staff member had an arrest warrant issued for obstructing an investigation but he was never publicly identified by the school.

Probes into the matter, including a Title IX investigation, remain ongoing in East Lansing. The football team recently wrapped up practice missing over a dozen players in the spring game so it appears this wide-ranging scandal that has embroiled the Spartans is not going to be over anytime soon.

Ex-USC coach finally lands court date with NCAA over Reggie Bush case

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After years and years of meandering through the court system, former USC running backs coach Todd McNair finally has his day in court with the NCAA.

ESPN is reporting that the two parties will meet in Los Angeles County Superior Court on April 18, 2018. The trial will finally get underway next year after nearly a decade of appeals on both sides.

McNair was the Trojans’ running backs coach during the glory days under Pete Carroll and responsible for coaching or recruiting many of the team’s top players. He was one of the few links to the program that the NCAA cited when determining that former star Reggie Bush received extra benefits, later leading to brutal sanctions back in 2010. McNair was given a one-year show-cause as a result of the Committee on Infractions findings and never coached again after the school let his contract expire shortly thereafter.

That wasn’t the end of the story however, as McNair later filed a defamation lawsuit against the NCAA in which he accused the association of violating protocol and showing bias against himself and the program in order to level unprecedented sanctions. Documents in the case have continued to seep out that have given credence to McNair’s case and the NCAA’s lawyers have fought bitterly at every turn in order to prevent the trial from actually getting underway.

Those efforts were unsuccessful however and it appears an already nasty legal battle is still not over. It remains to be seen if the trial will even happen, as a settlement could eventually take place between now and next April. If it does indeed go in front of a jury though, it just might be one of the most fascinating insights into one of the biggest NCAA scandals of the past few decades.

Biletnikoff Award semifinalist Jonathan Giles announces transfer from Texas Tech

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Thursday may have been a high point for the Texas Tech football program upon learning that former quarterback Patrick Mahomes was taken in the top 10 of the 2017 NFL Draft.

On Friday afternoon though, the Red Raiders dipped right back down as star wide receiver Jonathan Giles took to Twitter to announce that he was leaving the program and transferring out of Lubbock.

Giles was a Biletnikoff Award semifinalist a season ago after catching 69 passes for 1,158 yards and 13 touchdowns. Those numbers led the team in each category despite trailing off a bit down the stretch as Tech missed out on a bowl game.

Playing time could have been a big factor in the decision to leave the program as both Cameron Batson and Keke Coutee emerged as the top receiving targets and Giles was relegated to second-team status coming out of spring practice.

Tech’s Air Raid system and NFL quarterbacks had a lot to do with Giles’ big numbers but it’s fairly rare to see such highly touted and productive wideouts hit the transfer markets. While the decision probably isn’t what some Red Raiders fans wanted to hear on Friday, the receiver probably won’t be lacking for options when it comes to his next stop.

Pitt dismisses senior defensive tackle for disciplinary reasons

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Bad news in college football is typically reserved for Friday and it appears the Pitt Panthers just got a taste of some.

Per Pittsburgh Tribune-Review beat writer Jerry DiPaola, head coach Pat Narduzzi has dismissed starting defensive tackle Jeremiah Taleni for disciplinary reasons.

Taleni emerged as a starter down the stretch for the Panthers and will be a big loss up front for the team as they already have to replace the stellar production from the soon-to-be-drafted Ejuan Price.

No further comments were given when the school confirmed the news so it might be a while before we find out what led to Taleni’s dismissal and whether he plays college football at all next season.